Just luxury, no turbulence, on DAC Jet
Exclusive report: an incursion into the universe of Montréal’s DAC Jet Internationale, a subsidiary of Groupe DAC Aviation International, which offers an experience unique in North America and Europe.
Imagine the feeling. A Rolls Royce is waiting at your door and drops you off two metres from an elegant jet – a Cessna Citation CJ4, the perfect blend of high performance, safety and comfort – ready to whisk you to the destination of your choice. New York, perhaps? No problem, you’ll be there in about 50 minutes. A Customs officer will meet you when you land in New York and everything will be arranged in five minutes. Your private chauffeur, at the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade ESV, can then take you wherever you want and bring you back to “your plane ”. No. you’re not dreaming!
After flying over the most dangerous places on the planet, helping stop human catastrophes and redefining the parameters of transporting perishables and people in Africa, Emmanuel Anassis, the founder of Groupe DAC Aviation Internationale, is launching the DAC Jet Experience. Since September 2014 residents of Montréal have had access to a luxury private aviation service of unparalleled luxury leaving from Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport and founded on over twenty years of experience in the field and expertise at the leading edge of knowledge and technology.
Emmanuel Anassis is a Canadian whose name is associated with the highest levels of air safety. He was a bush pilot for twenty years and sometimes still flies into spots where few people dare to go, on board one of the Dash 8, CRJ or Cessna Grand Caravan EX in his fleet of around thirty planes based in Nairobi, Kenya. But he always comes back. The greatest specialists in humanitarian aid, top executives of international organizations or businesses and heads of state know it, and they often call upon him to take them to dangerous places. Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie and Jimmy Carter are just a few examples.
LUXE was privileged to meet with and interview Mr. Anassis.
You’ve flown all over the world in the service of humanitarian aid. Where did you get this idea of private flights?
On a trip to Europe in 2012, I became very ill with a virus I had caught in one of the airports I passed through. I had to get back to Montréal urgently. The world of private aviation was indescribably disorganized and the prices I was quoted seemed to be totally arbitrary. The planes were so poorly maintained that I was afraid to get on them. Not only was it a terrible experience for me personally, my company lost a lot of money during the 18 months I was off work. I told myself that I was never going to go through that sort of nightmare again. The idea of launching a high-class private flight service out of Montréal just came along naturally.
How does DAC Jet Internationale stand out?
Definitely by the exceptional level of safety and reliability of its planes, Groupe DAC Aviation owns a large fleet of aircraft and offers integrated transportation services around the world. We maintain our own aircraft following a very strict protocol for aeronautical safety. Our safety standards are much higher than the usual ones in the industry, for human resources as well as for equipment. This makes us able to reach areas where access is extremely difficult. That’s the reason for our success. We have never had a losing year since 1995.
Tell us about the DAC Jet Experience.
We want it to be the kind of experience that nothing can ever top.Right out of the factory, our plane can hold up to eight passengers as well as its crew. It has then most advanced technologies, especially in the area of telecommunications (Wi-Fi, telephone, Sirius XM radio, satellite, etc.).Safety expertise. For example, with DAC Jet they don’t have to set foot in the airport and thus they avoid the risk of catching a virus the way I did in 2012. That’s something right there, when you consider recent epidemics. Also, we talk all the risks related to bad weather. Our customer service is the direct responsibility of the President of DAC Jet Internationale, Ms. Jane Potapova. Customers speak directly with her – and sometimes with me! – to make a reservation. DAC Jet also offers concierge service throughout your trip.Since the day we launched the service, this past September 10, not a week goes by that we don’t fly to New York, the Midwest, Miami or California. Our intuition steered us right: the need really exists in Montréal.
Why charge a flat hourly rate?
We were looking for a way to make this experience affordable for all businesspeople, so our price structure had to be uniform. We supervise the maintenance on our own aircraft, so we could calculate a very reasonable flat rate. For example, DAC Jet charges $9,400 CA all-included (except the tax) for a two-way Montréal-New York trip and a chauffeur to pick you up and bring you to the airport on both legs of the journey. The price is the same for up to eight passengers. Figure it out: what would a traditional airline charge you? How many hours would you spend waiting at the airport?
How does this experience fit in with the rest of Groupe DAC Aviation?
We’ve been serving the humanitarian aid sector for twenty years, in what are often very difficult weather, geographical and political conditions. We’ve decided to explore another market – perhaps a more restful one! – by creating our own luxury brand, DAC Jet.You’re a bush pilot and also race cars for Ferrari. Should we see a connection between these two passions? My passion for humanitarian aid has led me to spend most of my life on dangerous missions. I slept in a tent for ten years, a kilometre from war zones. I got calls in the middle of the night and set off on a mission, often in a hail of bullets …Another passion, this time for speed, introduced me to automobile racing. Driving my Ferrari is a way for me to relax and let off steam. Of course, it’s also another form of excessive luxury. But the decision to join the Ferrari network in 2003 was also a studied marketing gesture. As a member of this exclusive circle formed mainly of businesspeople I am now extremely well placed to make them aware of the immense needs for humanitarian aid.Also, Ferrari is one of the best brands in the world. I want to associate the DAC Jet Experience with a top product that is the synonym of perfection!
What led you to hand the reins of DAC Jet Internationale to Jane Potapova, the Vice-President and Director of Groupe DAC Aviation?
No one was better suited than Jane to lead DAC Jet. Jane has been my right hand “man” for a long time. She joined DAC when she was studying marketing and doing her MBA. She has exceptional knowledge in the field of aeronautics, especially aircraft maintenance. Above all, she understands viscerally that when a plane is maintained properly the pilot will get it to its destination, along with the passengers. You’d be surprised how many airline executives have no practical idea of how the industry works. All they know is numbers. Like many of our employees, Jane will soon be able to pilot a plane.
LUXE also met Ms. Potapova.
Ms. Potapova, what is DAC Jet Internationale’s business model?
We want to convince people who own private planes to get rid of them and adopt the DAC Jet Experience for a fraction of their current costs. We want to convince businesspeople to align themselves with our services and transform the intangible into the tangible. Success in business is based on good communication. Nothing is better than meeting people face to face by going where they are in an ultra-safe, luxurious airplane at an affordable price.
How do you keep up with a boss with so many passions?
It’s true that Groupe DAC Aviation is based on dreams and passions. Emmanuel is extremely passionate, but he is also firmly grounded in reality and he always finds a way to make things work. He’s an expert in the art of taking risks and then mitigating them.
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Text: Renée Senneville
Photos: Patrizia Castiglione